Dissident chides Brazil for 'silence' on rights in Cuba

Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez on Thursday chided Brazil for its silence on human rights violations in her country, and urged Brasilia to speak out.

Sanchez, on a week-long visit to Brazil, told reporters here she had hoped for an "energetic stance" by the government, "which has tightened its ties" under ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his successor Dilma Rousseff with Cuba's communist regime.

"There has been a lack of firmness and sincerity on the issue of human rights on the island," she said. "In the case of the Brazilian government, there is too much silence."

Sanchez arrived in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife on Monday at the start of a three-month foreign tour after she finally won permission to leave her country.

"This trip is a life changing experience for me, although I think Cuba is going to need more than the trip of one person. Long Live Free Cuba," she later told AFP.

Sanchez was warmly welcomed by opposition lawmakers Wednesday in Brasilia -- a sharp contrast with the hostile reception she got from pro-Havana protesters in northeastern Brazil.

The opposition lawmakers applauded and showered her with gifts, while outside Congress pro-Cuban activists branded Sanchez a "mercenary."

In Recife early this week Sanchez was met by friends, supporters and journalists, but also by about 20 pro-Cuban protesters who waved signs accusing her of being a CIA agent.

"I anticipated some rejection but not so much virulence. I had hoped that the protests would have been more respectful," Sanchez said.

"I was born in a country where you cannot question a man, so I like it when you can question everybody, including myself," she told reporters.

The 37-year-old philologist, who found an international audience with her prize-winning online blog "Generation Y," is known for her biting commentary on the challenges in everyday life in Cuba.

The Castro regime for years denied Sanchez permission to accept invitations to speak abroad.

But in mid-January the regime finally relented after easing travel restrictions and eliminating the requirement of an exit visa.